How Vida e Caffè Charms Coffee Lovers – without advertising.
For South Africa’s caffeine addicts, few sights are more seductive on an early weekday morning than vida e caffè’s cheerful red logo. With its promise of steaming café lattes and chirpy baristas, vida e caffè (which means ‘life’ and ‘coffee’ in Portuguese) has become a household brand. But this is a brand that does not advertise, so how does vida really connect with its customers? Besides the caffeine injection and croissants, another thing vida’s customers have come to love – and seek out – is the brand’s custom publication, Obrigado. According to publisher TPP, over 15 000 Obrigado magazines are printed every quarter, and are available for free at over 90 vida e caffè’s nationwide. The Obrigado digimag is also available to 40 000 subscribers via the vida e caffè newsletter.
Delené Van Der Lugt, editor of Obrigado, says that the magazine is just ‘one of vida e caffè’s ways of saying thank you to its customers, the people who make urban creative living cool’.
“And also, to the people who refuse to drink mediocre coffee,” she says. “It also provides a platform for brand partners to connect with readers in the vida e caffè environment.”
Having been around since October 2005, what is the secret behind Obrigado’s phenomenal success?
“Obrigado is unusual – it’s both commercially successful and alternative,” says Van Der Lugt. “It combines edgy content and opinions with solid, mainstream information, and is provocative without being offensive. We’re not afraid to challenge our readers, we’re happy to tackle any topic, but it’s the tone that’s important…reading an Obrigado story should deliver the same experience as a chat with some mates over coffee.”
‘By the People’ – vida’s user generated Content Masterplan
When it comes to sourcing the right content, and staying on target, Van Der Lugt highlights that Obrigado ‘isn’t only about vida people – it’s also by vida people.’
To this end, the magazine is a collaborative showcase: featuring contributions from the diverse people – creatives and others – that frequent the coffee outlets.
According to Van Der Lugt, the magazine’s covers are conceptualised and designed by young local artists, who’ve almost come to see an Obrigado cover as a rite of passage in the industry. Content is mostly local, based on topical/controversial themes, and there’s a regular section that features patrons doing what they do best at work or play.
“We’ve also partnered with local authors and designers, who’ve created content specifically for Obrigado, so there’s meaning and relevance to the stories, not just a clumsy attempt at punting product,” she adds. “Design-wise, Obrigado has been the quirky, whimsical kid who tests the limits of conventional thinking.”
Any advice for brands that are looking to content creation/publishing as a marketing tool?
“Knowing your reader is essential – what lifestyle do they lead, what is their spending power, what are their aspirations?” advises Van Der Lugt. “This will guide you to deliver content that they want to engage with, in the right tone, with the right look and feel. The best term I’ve heard used is that content marketing is “editorial advertising”.”
Essentially, this means that it sells without the obvious sell, engages a customer with free content that is relevant to them with useful, practical or entertaining information, and encourages them to take some form of action. It provides a bridge between brand and customer, and has the edge over traditional marketing in that it can adapt quickly and span many channels.
“Brands are familiar with serving their customers content in the form of emails, brochures and newsletters,” she adds. “But the majority of this content is promotional and focuses on communicating a company’s services and successes, or a product’s features and benefits. It doesn’t give the consumer the information that they are interested in or find valuable. Content marketing fills this void with conversations rather than a sales pitch.”
According to Van Der Lugt, on a practical level this means creating content that is not bloated with jargon; the content is lean and concise; it is helpful and focused on the customer and it is consistent – which means it has one tone across all channels and is served regularly.
“It’s also important to acknowledge that using print as a content marketing platform as part of their strategy is still relevant, effective and offers brands a good return on investment,” she says. “There are so many channels available, but it’s important to identify those that are most relevant to your customer and focus your efforts – and budgets – on these. When you have mastered these, and know what works for you, you can broaden your reach by moving your content into other spaces.”